About David Munk

David Munk writer
photo by Elisa Casas

David Munk, a New Yorker by birth and temperament, was born in Brooklyn the week that “Baby Love” by the Supremes went to number one.  He is a graduate of NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts, where he majored in film, some graduate studies at the Gallatin Division of NYU, and postgraduate work at the School of Hard Knocks which, being an experiential program, conferred no degree, but provided him with a lifetime of material. He has worked successfully as an actor, writer, record producer, artist manager, music publishing creative director, and vintage clothing purveyor. Most recently, he has worked as a copywriter, branding, and communications consultant, for a host of clients, including Bulgari, DeBeers, and Kjaer Weiss Organic Skincare. In 2011 he was featured in the World of Wonder’s docu-soap Girls Who Like Boys Who Like Boys.

As a child, David made his professional stage debut in 1975 as the writer/director/star of a full-scale drag production of the Cher show in his basement.  “The crowd really got their money’s worth,” he recalled, “because even at nine my Cher was spot-on.  Plus at the time it was simply impossible to find good drag in New Jersey.”  The show was such a hit that he attempted to mount a sequel, The Sonny and Cher Show, but suffered a setback when his mother pulled the plug on the project.  “She was somewhat progressive about my emerging sexuality,” he explained, “but when it came to live performance, apparently one cross dressing spectacle a year was her limit.”  In order to slow him down they struck a deal: if he wanted to be Cher again, he had to play a biological man first—kind of the ‘one for me, one for you’ thing.  David added, “I was enraged and called my mother names, but ultimately ended up circumventing her edict by portraying a closeted homosexual—Barry Manilow—in what turned out to be a very well-received basement production of The Carol Burnett Show.”

Munk received his Screen Actors Guild card at nine and was subsequently cast as a denizen of the Honeycomb Hideout in a dozen TV commercials for Post Honeycomb cereal.  This enabled him to wear a studded denim hat while traveling to remote locations like outer space and “caveman time.”  At the tender age of twelve, he endured severe trauma when he was replaced by animation.

 

At 17, David moved to Manhattan to study film at NYU where he received a B.F.A. in film production without ever holding a camera. “Though I lived on campus, my curriculum was essentially a correspondence course, as I spent more time at clubs like Danceteria than in the library.  I think I had trouble focusing,” he said ruefully.  Munk subsidized his tuition with money he earned from a Manwich commercial, which ran for years.

 

The week after graduation from college, David fulfilled a lifelong dream and moved to Los Angeles.  His first job out of college was at Warner Bros., where he worked as a production assistant on the Barbra Streisand film Nuts.  When the film ended, he fell into a protracted depression related to his belief that having already met his idol, he would undoubtedly experience the rest of his life as a let down.  On this point he was more or less correct.

 

Streisand "Nuts"
A scene from “Nuts” (1987).  Here I am as Eli Wallach’s “son,” the ginger smudge in the photo on the desk.
Denise Rich, Paulina Rubio, David Furnish
Paulina Rubio, David Furnish (2nd from left), Denise Rich (c) and David Munk (Photo by Dimitrios Kambouris/WireImage)

Because of some research work he did for Barbra concerning a flashback sequence in the film, he was told by several people that he “seemed well-suited to the record business.” David took their advice, moved back to New York, and began a long career arc with a retail job at Tower Records that ultimately encompassed artist management, A&R, public relations, event planning, working directly for Steve Ross and Gerald Levin—the Chairmen of Time Warner Inc., as well as record production.  Along the way, he enjoyed success working as a music publishing executive, working with a long, eclectic list of writers and recording artists like Diane Warren, Cher, Trisha Yearwood, Joss Stone, Donna Summer, Jessica Simpson, Patti LaBelle, and even a few men.  For his penultimate job, Munk ran Denise Rich Songs for four years where he was responsible for packaging two number-one records and organizing the music division for the socialite/songwriter.  During his tenure there, David traveled the world, met every person he had ever idolized and many more that he didn’t. He also was able to use his music background to facilitate Ms. Rich’s philanthropic endeavors, helping to raise millions to seed research for blood-related cancer.

Dallas Austin, Natalie Cole, David Munk, DARP, "Leavin'"
With Dallas Austin and Natalie Cole in Atlanta, during the recording session for “Leavin'”, 2005
Fran Drescher
With Fran Drescher

In what would be his record business farewell, a track from Leavin’, a 2006 album he executive produced for the late Natalie Cole, was nominated for a Grammy for Best Female R&B performance.  Just as video had killed the radio star twenty years before, the internet had killed the record business; Leavin’ turned out to be not only the title cut of the album but also a withering comment on his career trajectory.

The years since Leavin’ have been a transformative period, during which time David branched out in new directions. He worked as Creative Director at a vintage clothing store, Chelsea Girl, created the Laurel Canyon boutique in Soho, rebooted his on-camera career via the Sundance Channel’s Girls Who Like Boys Who Like Boys, and acted in several TV commercials, where he is typically asked to play effete hotel managers, scientists, and, ironically, men of great wealth.

 “When someone asks me if I can do something, I just say, ‘I got Cher to the set of Will and Grace on time, so…yes.'”  

In addition to joining the throngs of displaced industry professionals in the blogosphere with Stargayzing, David is a regular contributor to the Huffington Post.  He also has a successful career as a consultant, providing content, branding, and client communications services for a wide range of luxury good manufacturers like Bulgari Jewelers and De Beers Diamond Jewelery, to name just a few.  “It wasn’t such a hard transition, because of my love of words and passion for well-made things and curated experiences. More than anything, for the first time in my career, writing a blog gives me the chance to directly express myself creatively without having to compromise or fight a committee to protect an idea.  I also enjoy not having to be that guy on the sidewalk hissing into his cell phone, ‘Where the fuck is her car?'”

With Mayor Mike Rawlings at the 2016 Dallas Festival of Ideas.

In early 2016, perhaps in an attempt to reclaim the spirit of pre-Bloomberg Manhattan, David moved to Brooklyn. In September 2016, realizing he got his dates wrong and was actually looking for the spirit of pre-Guiliani Manhattan, he left New York entirely, decamping to Dallas, Texas. “I will always be a New Yorker, but who wants a lover who always has a headache?” he explained. “A city that exists primarily for the pleasure of tourists, Hedge Fund billionaires, and Sarah Jessica Parker doesn’t share my values. I appreciate all three, but not at the expense of everybody else.” he added. “It is revelatory to realize where you live is not a sentence, but a choice. New York used to be a place where artists and outliers of every stripe went to reinvent themselves. Now it’s a place you have to leave in order to do the same thing.”

David Munk
…life just outside the spotlight.

To inquire about David’s writing services, please visit davidmunk.com